The gully erosion in the Rio Grande
Plateau, Campos das Vertentes region,
State of Minas Gerais, Brazil*
Marx L. Naves Silva; Nilton Curi; João José G.S.M.
Marques; Vinicius Martins Ferreira; Rogério Martins
Universidade Federal de Lavras (UFLA), Departamento de
Ciência do Solo (DCS), PO Box 37, Zip Code 37200-000,
Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Phone: 0313538291263, Fax:
0313538291251, E-mail:[email protected]
* Publicated in 12 th ISCO Conference – International Soil Conservation
Organiization Conference; 26 a 31/05/2002; Beijing - China
The environmental degradation is one of the most critical
problems faced today. Solutions are technically possible.
However, the effects of soil degradation frequently persist. In
this focus, there are new problems living together with old
ones, and the environmental destruction is one of the most
complex and critical. We come across risk situations such as
the development of erosive processes in the Rio Grande
Plateau, Campos das Vertentes region, Minas Gerais State, that
no one had to face in the past history. The gullies, in the region,
have their origins in the 18th century with the discovery of gold
mines. At the end of the gold cycle, enormous craters, known
as gullies (dimensions above 26 ha), and large deforested areas
remained in the region. In the search to find explanations for
these facts, two aspects stand out: the first is related to the
complexity of the degradation processes, making it difficult to
predict the consequences of the stabilization and control action
for the future; the second is related to the knowledge and
understanding of soil and water conservation basic concepts,
by the local community, that many times are decoded in a way
different from the reality, creating an obstacle in the
development of the conscience of the severity of the real
problem that surrounds them. Environmental education is a
fundamental instrument at medium and long term for the
consciousness-raising about the importance of soil and water
conservation. Successful programs can be organized through
the strengthening of the participation of the local community.
Overcoming these problems is a central point to initiate a
process of change. In this context, this study has the objective
of developing a program of environmental education to control
and stabilize the permanent gullies in the region. The aim is to
contribute to the formation of a conscience about
environmental degradation themes, particularly the ones in the
region, such as the gullies. The Counties of Nazareno, Morro
do Ferro, São Tiago, São João Del Rei, Lavras, Santo Antônio
do Amparo are located in the Rio Grande Plateau, in the region
of Campos das Vertentes, Minas Gerais State. The dominant
soils are Cambisols and Latosols. These types of soils are
derived from poor pelitic rocks, presenting many attributes
favorable to the erosive process. In the search for solutions to
control the gullies an environmental education and gully
control program were created. The proposal is supported by the
following interdisciplinary principles and ideas: control and
stabilization of the gullies using bio-engineering techniques
accessible and viable for small farmers, publishing of
successful alternative technologies, diversification of the
agricultural activities, production and distribution of seedlings
of natural and exotic species. Implementation of the
environmental education program and promotion of seed
collecting, planting group-work, interpretative excursions,
lectures, courses and enabling of teachers and students from the
community activities and adoption of alternative technologies
of sustainable development, professional enabling in the gully
control, seedling production, garbage utilization, horticulture,
landscaping and educational tourism and legal: proposal of
specific legislation. The work methodology gives prominence
to the community organization participating in the program and
explores the interaction of the involved through sustainable
development. The understanding of both the historic and
dynamic reality is the basis to define the intervention and
changes forms. The results presented here consider the
perspectives and direction conducted by the local community
according to its own dynamic. As the implementation of this
interdisciplinary character, continuation of activities will be
undertaken by the local organizations that were mobilized for
this, with the technical support of the partner institutions.

The gully erosion in the Rio Grande Plateau, Campos das Vertentes